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him his extraordinary popularity and made his teaching an
abiding influence in the educational life of Paris, and, through
Paris, of all Europe. It was his treatment of theology, as a subject
for philosophical discussion by means of disputation. The general
character of his method can be best understood by a consideration
of the book he entitled Sic et Non (Yea and Nay). In the Prologue
he sets forth quite boldly the need for a critical examination of
doctrine. " Constant questioning," he says, " is the first key to
wisdom. For through doubt we are led to inquiry, and by inquiry
we discern the truth." There are many obscure and contradictory
views, he points out, in the works of the Church Fathers. He
proposes to help to remove these difficulties by setting forth both
sides of the case in the words of the ancient authorities, " When
a number of quotations are cited from various writings, they lead
the reader to seek out the truth by judging how far the authority
of the writing commends itself." For this purpose he selected 158
disputed points in Christian doctrine, and drew up the counter
arguments used by St. Paul, St. Augustine, and the Fathers. The
first topic, significantly enough, was the query : " Should human
faith be based upon reason or no ? " The others covered a wide
range of subjects. For example : " Is God a substance or no ? "
" Is God the author of evil or no ? " " Do we sometimes sin in-
voluntarily or no ? " Once introduced by Abelard, the method
of quotation from opposing authorities speedily became the
accepted method of dealing with all kinds of questions. It was
applied, for instance, to the law of the Church by Gratian, a monk
of Bologna, in his Concordia discordantium canonum (1139-1142)
which became one of the standard works on Canon Law. But its
effect was greatest in the sphere of theology. It was its free em-
ployment by all parties in discussing the burning questions
concerning Church doctrine that made the scholastic theology the
central interest of the students of Paris for over three hundred


It will be seen that in spite of some obvious differences there
was a fundamental similarity in the academic conditions prevailing
at the beginning of the Twelfth Century in Bologna and Paris. In